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Turkey has sent a military drone to the breakaway Turkish part of Cyprus to protect Turkish drill ships which explore for oil and gas offshore the island, in another escalation of the tension between Turkey and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The military drone landed in the Turkish Cypriot part of the island on Monday, after the Northern Cypriot government—which is recognized only by Turkey—agreed to Turkey using the Gecitkale airport for drones, Anadolu Agency reported.
Turkey, which recognizes the northern Turkish Cypriot government and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the internationally recognized government of EU member Cyprus, claims that part of the Cyprus offshore area is under the jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots or Turkey and they are entitled to part of the potential oil and gas resources in the area. Turkey doesn’t recognize the agreements that Cyprus has signed with other countries in the Mediterranean over the exclusive maritime zones either. Turkey is the only country that has recognized the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Amid the maritime dispute and the row over exploration rights, earlier this year Turkey began exploration of oil and gas offshore Cyprus, and appears determined to continue drilling operations, despite warnings from the U.S. and the European Union (EU).
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan affirmed his country’s claim over oil and gas exploration rights offshore Cyprus in August, saying that “No project can be realised if Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are not involved.”
In July, the EU chastised Turkey, saying that “In light of Turkey’s continued and new illegal drilling activities,” the EU suspends talks on an air transport agreement and halts EU-Turkey high-level dialogues.
The EU’s conclusions “will in no way affect Turkey’s determination to continue its hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in mid-July.
“These conclusions demonstrate how prejudiced and biased the EU is with regard to Cyprus as they make no reference to the Turkish Cypriots, who have equal rights over the natural resources of the Island, in total disregard of their existence in Cyprus,” Turkey says.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.